X-ray Synchrotrons could boost Clean Water Technologies, says study

The need of clean water is only going to grow in the world in the coming decades. And, desalination and other clean water technologies are mostly expensive and are energy intensive. This makes it much difficult to provide more clean water to a population that is growing, in a warming world.

To address this, the use of tools such as those available at X-ray synchrotrons for better measure of properties of materials involved in purifying water is recommended, says scientists at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory of the Department of Energy and the University of Paderborn, Germany.

“This is a favorable time for the country – academia, national labs, and industrial partners – to advance with the respect to the science related to desalination, and other water-purifying technologies,” said a distinguished scientist at Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource at SLAC. The authors of the study published the new perspective on advancing water-purifying technologies in the journal Joule.

Around the world, at least one month in a year, billions of people struggle to obtain clean drinking water. According to projections, demand for water in some parts of the U.S., including California will exceed supply by 2050.

High cost, energy inefficient pitfalls of Desalination

On top of this, desalination and other clean water technologies are often expensive and energy intensive – and it’s not clearly known how to improve these technologies.

For example, to use membrane reverse osmosis, saltwater is passed over a membrane under pressure. The membrane then pushes clean water through the membrane into a stream of freshwater and retains the salt, contaminants, and organics on the stream of salty water. Hitherto, researchers do not understand the details of physical and chemical processes responsible for filtering, or how the drawbacks of reverse osmosis interfere with the process.